Bradley Foundation moving to Hammes Co.’s downtown Milwaukee office building

Story from Milwaukee Business Journal by Sean Ryan, April 15, 2019 -

The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation will move from its longtime home on Milwaukee’s east side to the office building Hammes Co. is completing downtown.

The philanthropic, conservative organization will fill the third floor of the five-story office building at North Water and East Knapp streets. The Bradley Foundation since 1996 has been in the 1855 Lion House at 1241 N. Franklin Place, said president and CEO Rick Graber.

“We were really looking for a space that would allow us to be more collaborative, more cutting edge, more efficient,” he said. “It’s important to us to maintain our ties with the city of Milwaukee."

Graber said the organization looked for options downtown and in the 3rd Ward. The five-story Hammes building’s architecture is a flashback to classical American designs, with large stone columns and a copper dome on its rooftop. Jon Hammes, founder and managing partner of the Hammes Co., helped select quotes from U.S. founding fathers that will be displayed on stone tablets in the building lobby.

Graber said the building architecture complements the Bradley Foundation’s principles, which include adherence to the U.S. Constitution and a free-market economy. The group’s philanthropic work in Milwaukee includes supporting the arts, homebuyer programs and school reform.

The Bradley Foundation and its Bradley Impact Fund will occupy the 15,677-square-foot third-floor space. Graber said the office would open in November with about 28 people, but the organization could grow in the building over time.

The Bradley Foundation will put its Franklin Place properties on the market for sale. The foundation owns three historic homes there. The foundation occupies two of the buildings, and the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty has offices in the third. Graber said an asking price hasn’t been set.

David Barry and Jim Barry of Milwaukee-based Barry Co. represented The Bradley Foundation in its lease, and will list the Franklin Place buildings for sale.

It marks the first significant outside lease for the Hammes Co. building. Hammes Co. will occupy its top two floors, moving its current headquarters from Brookfield.

“I view The Bradley Foundation as an institution that has been providing philanthropic resources to Milwaukee for many years,” Jon Hammes said. “I personally view that as a very prestigious tenant.” 

Jon Hammes said The Bradley Foundation lease brings the building’s occupancy to about 60 percent. Only the first two floors remain available.

“We’re in the midst of space planning and negotiations with occupants for the remaining two floors,” Hammes said. “The building seems to be well-received.” 

Hammes said the building will be completed in 30 to 45 days. The developer owns land next to its future home where an addition with more offices can be built. Hammes said work for the addition would ramp up after the initial building is about 80 percent leased.

Dan Jessup of JLL’s office in Milwaukee represented Hammes Co. in the lease.